Written by: Conor Fuller
Photography by: Sharon Lopez + Khali Photography
All Points East kicked off another summer of festivities in Tower Hamlets with an eclectic line-up, showcasing artists at the top of their game across a range of genres. Whether it was this draw – the chance to see a spectrum of styles and acts in one day – or the explosive run of dates last summer, or a bit of both, the crowds assembled early.
As if on cue, the blanket cloud gave way to glorious sunshine the minute Ibibio Sound Machine took to the main stage to kick off proceedings, almost as if it was part of the programming. A joyful mix of brass and electronics treated the early birds who were limbered up and ready to embrace it.
More people poured into the park when broadcasting stalwart Gilles Peterson kicked the BBCRadio6 Music stage into action, a source of constant energy and sound throughout the whole day and an excellent spot to return to between bands. Showcasing lots of emerging talent, Shy One put smiles on faces with undulating rhythmics, smooth chords and buoyant beats.
Opening the North Stage tent, illusive Paris, Texas burst on stage, throwing themselves about from the off. “This is our first time out here”, they screamed, but there were no signs of nerves as they introduced the crowd to their punchy, distorted style of hip-hop. As their audience visibly loosened, 'girls like drugs' was the final encouragement needed to hurl themselves about in the same fashion as the band.
There was never any doubt that Remi Wolf wouldn’t continue this vein. Sprinting onto stage after her band had taken up their instruments, she jogged, hopped and cartwheeled through a kaleidoscopic set of funk-tinged pop. Having gone viral during lockdown, the novelty of performing live clearly still hasn’t worn off for the band. It was infectious, each of them beaming – they had the innocent energy of a group of friends jamming. Notorious for performing choice covers, a highlight of the set was a slower rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s 'Crazy', which really showed what Remi could do vocally.
As the heat of the day peaked, Pusha T stepped out onto the main stage. His commanding presence demanded attention, as he stalked the stage, engaging every side of the crowd. Opening with the whiplash-inducing 'Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes', he rattled through other hits off his latest album It’s Almost Dry, including 'Neck & Wrist' and lead-single, Ye-produced, 'Diet Coke'. Bragging about the record to agreement from the crowd, he announced a Brixton show there and then – all invited.
The West Stage felt like a family affair – artists and audience supporting each other alike. Yves Tumor’s ear-piercing, leather-clad art rock drew Paris, Texas to dance, jump and mosh with the crowd. Self-Esteem’s stunning vocals gave way to IDLES incendiary headline set. Frontman Joe Talbot, skipped in circles, mimicking the motion of the moshpit, as he bellowed through their wall of noise.
Gorillaz were fitting headliners to follow all this variety. The brainchild of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the virtual band manifested in all their forms as they treated the crowd to hits from their whole catalogue. The highs of 'Dirty Harry', 'Kids With Guns' and 'On Melancholy Hill' were contrasted with beautiful, softer moments that felt as intimate as a cosy club gig. Albarn took to the piano, wearing a wig thrown at him by the crowd, to perform the tender opening to 'Empire Ants' before it gave way to the sensational climax, Little Dragon’s vocals ringing out across Victoria Park.
It was more a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Gorillaz brought out Shaun Ryder to perform 'DARE', but Happy Mondays’ perennial backing singer Rowetta took the certified banger to a new, soulful level. It was another guest who got the biggest reaction, however, as Kevin Parker (aka Tame Impala) made a surprise appearance, ahead of his headline slot later this week, to perform a new collaboration.
Saving hits 'Clint Eastwood' and 'Feel Good Inc.' to last, Gorillaz rounded off their homecoming headline slot to a deafening roar, the crowd appreciating the journey they had just been taken on. What better way to reflect what All Points East has become; an all-encompassing creative outlet for East London, where music and people of all backgrounds and styles are embraced and celebrated.
All Points East 2022 resumes this coming August Bank Holiday weekend with Tame Impala, The National, Disclosure, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds all headlining. To book the final remaining tickets, head to our shop here.